Thelonious Monk

Monk in Tokyo

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Recorded live in Tokyo, this LP captures the quartet on their first Asian tour, performing mostly Thelonious Monk's own tunes, such as "Straight, No Chaser," "Blue Monk," and "Bemsha Swing." The Japanese audience reacts enthusiastically, with the quartet responding in kind with a generally inspired performance. There are few, if any, surprises -- just solid playing and delightfully swinging, and at times hard-hitting, group and individual performances. While this may have been an average night for Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Monk seems invigorated by the setting, putting forth a strong effort with exciting results. Butch Warren's bass holds the line, while drummer Frankie Dunlop keeps immaculate time. Monk's trademark, quirky compositions are on full display, with their sophisticated voicings, rhythmic oddities, and melodic eccentricities. At this point in his career, Monk's output was remarkably consistent, and there is nothing here to dispel that characterization. This should appeal to collectors as well as first-time listeners who wish to own at least one Monk quartet album. Despite the short recording time, the music is of a consistently high quality and it is well-recorded, too, making this a valuable, if not indispensable, issue.

blue highlight denotes track pick